Becoming A Runner

When I started this journey on Nov. 30, 2011, I truly had no idea what I was getting into.

I knew that I wanted to lose my baby weight. I knew that I wanted to get back in shape. And more than that, I knew that I wanted to start down a different path of centeredness of body and mind.

Deciding to train for the Door County Half Marathon was a decision made on a whim. A few friends are involved with organizing the race and many have run it, so when someone suggested off-the-cuff that I try training, my first reaction was to say, “Nah. I’ll have just had a baby.” The more I thought, though, the more I realized that was simply an excuse. It was the same excuse I had used after my first child. Something had to change in my world, and training for my first half marathon seemed to be it.

Standing in my kitchen early one November morning, with a sleeping baby girl on my shoulder, I got an email telling me that registration for the half marathon was officially open. “Here we go,” I thought to myself as I clicked the registration button.

It was days later, at a harvest dinner surrounded by pals, that my friends Allison and Dave asked me if I’d be willing to blog about my training. I recall snorting and saying something to the effect, of “No, blogging is for self-indulgent people with too much time on their hands.” Perhaps that’s a harsh assessment, and really it was simply an assessment of what I would be blogging about. At the time, I had nothing but time on my hands during my maternity leave, and after all, I thought, who would want to read about a woman who was 20 pounds overweight, shuffling along the back roads of Door County in a vain attempt to recapture her youth?

When Allison said, “It will keep you honest; it will make you accountable,” I knew she was right. If I was beholden to someone or something, I couldn’t make excuses or give up. So I agreed. I was venturing into unknown territory. I decided early on that I would be honest in my training and my writing. Otherwise, the process seemed like a façade. If it took me 12 and a half minutes to run/walk a mile, then it did. If I had successes, I’d reflect on them. If I had setbacks and failures, I’d reflect on those, too. As I started training, I felt like I was surrounded by professional runners who were all stronger and faster than me. I hoped that perhaps somewhere out there was another runner who was starting off like me, with little-to-no running experience, and attempting to finish 13.1 miles alive. I hope I reached those folks.

I have found through my training that running makes me feel incredibly alive. Sometimes that feeling burgeoned from gratitude and awe at what the human body can achieve. Sometimes, it was utter and abject exhaustion after 10 miles of slogging up and down hills all over the county. In either case, though, I found myself face to face with one essential question: can you keep moving? I found that invariably my answer was yes, even if I was tired, cold, or disappointed.

And so, the miles ticked by. I look back over the last five months of my life and in my mind’s eye I can see how far I’ve come, how far we’ve all come. I see a brand new pair of running shoes under the Christmas tree, and the now mud-splattered, worn-down shoes lying under the dining room table. I see myself shuffling along in big, fat-flaked snow, leaning into an early spring gust, and jogging in the sun with my girlfriends. I see the finish line of the Shamrock Shuffle gliding closer toward me, or me toward it, as I complete my first real running race. I see statistics like miles run and calories burned translated into muscles built and pounds shed. Most of all, I see the person that I wanted to be back in November beginning to emerge.

As the race weekend approaches, I feel a combination of pride and apprehension. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. I know, unless some terrible calamity or injury befalls me, that I will finish the race. It’s my first half marathon, and I’m nervous. If and when I cross that finish line, it will be a culmination of hours and minutes and seconds spent in preparation for one morning of my life. While race day matters, I’m still so pleased with the process. That was really what it’s been about for me in the end. No matter what that clock says when I reach Nicolet Bay, I will know that I’ve achieved something I set out to accomplish months ago. And I will do it with pride.

See you at the finish line.

Lauren Bremer teaches English and coaches volleyball at Gibraltar High School. She had her second child last fall, and a short time later signed up for the Door County Half Marathon. She blogged about her training for, and completed her first race March 25 at the Shamrock Shuffle.